Reflecting back on my memories as a first-year student, there were a couple of things I wish I had considered before moving into residence. Here are 12 lessons I took away that could help kick off your year to a great start.
1. Label your boxes with your name + room number
Before arriving at your residence building, take out a sharpie and write your last name and your room number on your boxes and stuff. That way the helpers can deliver them to your room with ease.
2. Bring a…
- Fan/portable A/C (Bates). Bates is an amazing residence building. The only problem is the first few warm weeks in August you will want a fan or a portable A/C to take the extreme heat away.
- Extra clothes hangers. You will want one for your winter coat, and any other clothes you may purchase.
- Over the door hanger. These are great for robes, towels, and jackets.
3. Get comfortable
If you’re in an apartment style, you will get a couch. I'd recommend getting a blanket and some throw pillows to make your common area extra comfy!
4. Decorate to your taste (including the common areas)
- Use command hooks - they hold a lot of weight
- Decorative lights
- Lots of pictures of the people you love in frames, cork boards also work great
Check out Pinterest for some ideas that suit you!
5. Have a stash of study snacks and drinks
Fortinos is right across the street. In less than a ten-minute walk, you can grab snacks to keep you company for the first few weeks. You can also pick up prescriptions there as well
Some good options:
- Chips (salt and vinegar is my favourite)
- Crackers and cheese
- Goldfish crackers
- Granola bars
- Pop/juice (don't forget to store in the fridge!)
When you're reading or have an evening class, it always helps to have a snack by your side.
These events are actually fun! Get to know people both in your program and in your residence. This past year we had a concert, headphone disco, rooftop DJ’s and even blew up bouncy castles. If these events aren’t for you, try hanging out in common areas, or even just talking to people while doing your laundry. Leave your door open or even knock on peoples doors and hang out. Bring cards or a game to play, and it never hurts to have a speaker.
7. Think twice before taking an 8:30AM class
University is not like high school. You only want to take that 8:30AM class if you're an early bird. When you plan your courses on Mosaic, you can grey out specific blocks of time for personal time.
8. When you miss your friends, give them a call.
It's normal to feel homesick and to miss your friends throughout your time away from home. Try calls, facetimes, and group chats to keep in contact. I found it helpful to set up times to talk. There is also a Go-bus terminal on campus that makes it's super easy to get around and HSR buses that get you around Hamilton for FREE!
9. HELP! WHERE DO I GO?
Take advantage of student reliefs like MSAF. Your Professors and TA are not mean, scary or distant. They want to help you! Go to office hours, send them emails and ask questions in lecture (if not, try after or before lecture) and ask for the support that you need.
Check out the student success centre! There are wellness centres that can provide you with mental/physical health support.
Lastly, BUG YOUR ACADEMIC ADVISORS!! Their job is to help you through your academic career. If you are struggling, or want to look into new programs they are a great starting resource. If you need help, ask for it.
10. Check out Mac Intramural Sports
This is a relaxed environment where you can try a new recreational sport! All you have to do is register here.
11. Set up a group chat with your roommates
This is a great way to get to know each other, and coordinate what each person can bring so that the day runs smoothly. It's a great way to keep in contact at events together and plan things to do.
12. Remember this is YOUR experience
This is YOUR university experience. NOT YOUR PARENTS. NOT YOUR FRIENDS. IT'S YOURS. Do what is best for you. Pick the program that you are passionate about, not the one that your parents would prefer you to do. If you want to go home on the weekends, do it. If you want to get a job to feel more balanced, do it. At the end of the day, this is your experience and it is your responsibility to make it the best for you. Explore new opportunities and have fun. This chapter of your life can be all about you.